Sunday, December 11, 2011

52 Blessings – Nativities

I didn’t even realize I had a Nativity collection until this year as I was unpacking the decorations. I was surprised at how many had accumulated over the years. One was made by a friend whose little nine year old daughter had just passed away.  She said she felt called to make them.  I know she found great peace that year stitching the Nativity from felt and spools.  I think of her and her daughter every time I unpack it.  Five of the nativities are gifts from nieces, students, friends.  I stitched one nativity wall-hanging during a wrestling season of Ty's.  The big, nice nativity is one Calvin and I picked out together.  Thank heavens for Costco.  And then there is the picture of Mary holding the baby Jesus clothes-pinned to the fridge.  It's just a calendar picture and Calvin requests it be hung every year.

One time a teacher asked what or who we would have liked to have been if we had been there the night the Savior was born. Some said an angel, some said a shepherd, a few said Mary, and a couple mentioned Joseph. One said, “The stable so that I could have protected Jesus,” and two more added, “The straw so I could have given Him comfort,” and, “The manger so I could have given Him a place to rest because He has a hard life ahead.” Another said, “The star, so I could have shown people where He was,” and one said, “The goat. Goats are too stupid to do much thinking so I’d have wanted to be the goat. Then I could have watched the whole thing, but I wouldn’t have been smart enough to say something dumb and ruin the spirit of it.”

What or who would you have wanted to be? I’m still not sure . . .

An angel would have been a thrilling assignment. I don’t know if heavenly choirs require angelic voices or not, but if they don't I would have loved to have sing “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” It would have given me goose bumps from my neck to my knees. I would have loved to have been an angel singing in a choir big enough to fill the whole universe.

I would imagine keeping the night watch as a shepherd, searching the outskirts for the shadow of a thug or the eyes of a wolf, would have made a bit jumpy. And then to see something come unexpectedly out of the night sky would understandably have given me a fright. But to be comforted by an angel saying, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy . . .” and then to say where the “Saviour, which is Christ the Lord” could be found would have been a most exhilarating experience. I would have loved to have traveled with the shepherds to see the new baby king.

I don’t know if Mary experienced the baby blues or newborn euphoria, either way there would have been a thousand and one things to worry about if I had been Mary. I imagine the least of which would have been how to deliver, wash, diaper, feed, and care for a newborn. Every mother knows the privilege of caring for a new little baby that cannot care for himself, so to be given the charge of taking care of and teaching the One who would later take care of and teach everyone would have been a privilege indeed. Surely Mary was “highly favoured,” the Lord was with her and she was “blessed among women.” I would have loved to have cradled and cared for the baby Jesus.

As with Mary, there would have been a thousand and one things to worry about if I had been Joseph. How to come up with tax money, plan a family trip, transport a full-term pregnant wife, and pay for the motel, food and hay for the donkey, besides introducing your new wife in her “circumstances” to your extended family and friends back in your hometown would have been taxing at best. Joseph must have had a wonderfully large heart and strong protective hands to care for Mary and Jesus. I would have loved to have met him and thanked him for his part in the nativity, and asked him if there was something I could do to help.

It would have been a great opportunity to share wealth, talent, and blessings with Mary and Joseph to help them with their responsibility of raising the Son of God.  I imagine the conversations around the campfires at night as the wise men followed the star would have been incredible too. 

To protect and defend the Savior of the world is a privilege. The stable would be a sturdy and admirable choice.

The Lord is so generous at providing us with comfort. To have helped meet His mortal needs, even if it were only by being the straw, when He was helpless would also have been an honor. I don’t think I would have wanted to be a goat, but then I didn’t think I would want to be a donkey either until I read this poem:

Mary's Donkey 
by Ann Lundberg Robinson

like Mary's donkey,
we may find
that our greatest glory
has come from
carrying life's burdens with
simple dignity,
from being of humble
service to others,
and taking one earth step
at a time
from patiently enduring. 

And Jesus himself was referred to as the Lamb of God and lambs are cousins to goats. So maybe there really was no insignificant role in the nativity, since all things bear record of the Savior.

I still don’t know who or what I would have wanted to be. But, I do know who I wouldn’t have wanted to be under the new star that night. I would not have wanted to be the inn keeper or the guests. I would not have wanted to be that close to the greatest event in history, a real spiritual opportunity, and then miss it because of my own ignorance or busyness. I would have lots of regrets if I had been the inn keeper or the guests.

I remember rearranging our nativity as a little girl. My younger brother and sisters would rearrange it after me and I’d move them back to the spot I thought they should go after they left. Funny how we get a little certain in our minds about how things must have been that sacred night, and we don’t want them messed with. Like the real story gives me in real life, nativities add substance to the season for me.

What would you have wanted to be?  
Have you got a nativity you feel fondly towards?


Becky said...

I love nativities too and have noticed that I am slowly building a collection.

I have *always* hoped I was one of the angels, singing in the gives me goosebumps every time I think about it.

Loved all of the wise thoughts in this post :)

Ande Payne said...

I loved this blog. I loved hearing what you thought about each role. I think I'd chose the manger too. I'm good at comforting.